Stegosaurus (meaning “roof lizard”), is one of the most easily-identifiable dinosaurs, due to the distinctive double row of kite-shaped plates rising vertically along its arched back and the two pairs of long spikes extending horizontally near the end of its tail.
“Stegosaurus tails were without question one of the most dangerous weapons ever evolved by a plant-eating animal” (Bakker) Such a weapon appears necessary considering Stegosaurus coexisted with large predatory theropod dinosaurs, such as the fearsome Albosaurus.
The function of the plates has been much debated. Initially thought of as some form of armour, researchers have also proposed that they may have helped to control body temperature. Wind tunnel tests have suggested that the plates are well shaped to gather and dissipate heat.
Stegosaurus is also known for its remarkably tiny brain, at only 80 grams, apparently sufficient for its needs.